1. Stop waiting for things to change – change yourself NOW!
Most often that means changing your attitude! Too many times people have preconditions to happiness, only to find even if they reach that goal, there are even more pre-conditions to happiness. Aside for a temporary “high” when we attain our goal, we very quickly go back to a general baseline mood unless we change our thinking habits. If you tend to be a pessimist, you will continue to be no matter what happens on the outside, unless you change from the inside. Real attitude change is an inside job!
2. Build on your regrets, rather than let them keep you stuck in the past.
All too often, we use the past as a hitching post rather than a guide post. What’s done is done, and you can’t change it now. Use lessons from the past to improve your life NOW! See even failure as feedback, not as a referendum of your self worth. Regrets can propel you forward, make you wiser and help you develop empathy for others. Regrets give us many useful lessons to build upon if you do not let them weigh you down. Forgive yourself for now knowing everything when you were six! We are all works in progress. Use your regrets as stepping stones towards a better future, rather than rocks in your emotional backpack.
3. Learn something every day.
The end of school does not mean the end of learning. We are learning all the time, even if we are not aware of it. Life gives the best lessons of all, and it constantly teaches us lessons no one ever could. If you open up to the wonder of growing and learning, even if the lessons are something you never wanted to learn, you will keep moving in a forward direction.
4. Stop lying to yourself!
People who are the most honest to others are often the biggest liars to themselves. They feed themselves all sorts of fiction that they are not good enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, to the extent that they feel at times like “failures”. The critical inner voice is hard to quell, especially if you learned early on those messages that were judgmental and critical. People who lie to themselves treat fact like fiction. Change your self talk from statements like “I should be further along in my life than now” to “I am disappointed at where I am in my life, and I have learned many lessons to build on to make different decisions now.”
5. Forgive…for goodness sake!
Forgiveness does not mean condoning behavior – it means you give up the bitterness you harbor that eats at you and robs you out of happiness in life. People who wrong us are not inherently evil, but rather more likely unhealthy and maybe very very, very unhealthy. Switching from seeing from being “bad” to being “unhealthy” can free you of the resentment and bitterness. Whether it is your parents, coworkers, friends, or as a result of a love relationship gone sour, forgiveness will help you open up your heart to try again. Of course, the most important person to forgive is yourself, and keep in mind you are a work in progress.
6. Think straight to feel great!
Irrational thinking lays the foundation for a lot of unhappiness and helplessness. Irrational thinking can be so automatic, that it is hard to catch, as our thoughts become solidified into “truths.” Our perceptions shape our reality, and that is what determines our attitude. As you become more aware of irrational patterns of thinking and change them into more rational thoughts, you will be empowered to change your attitude to change your life. “I can’t stand this” is irrational – nothing makes you melt into the ground! A more rational perspective is, “I am having a hard time with this”. The less you immobilize yourself with judgmental thoughts, the more you will feel empowered and optimistic.
7. Try to change what is in your control, not what is out of your control.
Who is the only person we can change? Ourselves! Who do we often try to change? Others! Even trying to change someone else’s mind, however well meaning, can lead to frustration as people do not change just because you want them too – they need to want to! If you find yourself trying to change others, you will tend to be aggressive rather than assertive. Bossiness and insensitivity will limit your ability to be accepting of others, flaws and all. Of course, accepting people does not give them a “carte blanche” to say or do anything they want – it is up to us to set limits on how much we let them into our inner world. People who tend to be negative and focus on changing others rather than themselves are more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives.
8. Make peace with the fact that life is not fair.
We all know that life is not fair, but all too often we still expect it to be! Expecting that life and people in it should be fair is the source of countless pain. Life gets quite tedious with that type of entitled mentality. Life is really more like Swiss Cheese with all its holes. It is not smooth and predictable like cream cheese or American. It is actually the holes in our lives that offer us challenges that make us stronger and develop depth of character. If we embrace the holes in our lives and grow through them, we become healthier in mind and spirit. Try as hard as you can to make life fair, and accept the rest and work around it.
9. Let yourself smile from within.
People who are grateful for what they have instead of comparing themselves to others, feeling bitter about what they do not have, tend to feel less hacked by life. Pre-conditions to gratefulness is like pre-conditions to happiness – gratefulness will never happen unless we learn to be grateful for things in our life now. Life can be tough and it is easier to find faults with it, but it will be an easier journey if we stop to smell the roses, slow down, and enjoy beauty in your world today. Immerse yourself in nature, breath in the fresh air, slow down and savor each bite of food, and stop to lovingly gaze on those close to you. Don’t take them for granted. Are you too busy for that? Let yourself be a human being instead of a human doing.
10. Don’t wait to change your life – do it today! Start right now!
You want your life to change? Don’t wait! Tomorrow is forever put off, and today is the day to start. You can empower yourself by using “victor” language instead of “victim” language. Replace “I should” with “I will” and “I hate to” with “I don’t like”. The more flexible your self talk, the more you feel empowered and will be proactive. Proactivity is one of the 7 habits of highly effective people according to Stephen Covey. Those who are proactive are more likely to be masters of their destiny, as opposed to those who are reactive, who allow others to control their moods. Make an action list of things you want to accomplish, and start today! You do not have to do things all at once, and breaking large goals such as losing weight, can be broken down into little sub-goals. The important thing is to begin today!
Each day that you choose to remind yourself of these ten skills to hack life rather than let life hack you, you will increase your sense of self-mastery and enjoy life more.
I welcome ideas of how you hack life!
(Photo credit: A Better Life Sign via Shutterstock)